Nadhim Zahawi launched his pitch for the Conservative leadership last night with a thinly veiled swipe at his rival , saying that ‘we cannot tax our way into prosperity’.
Mr Zahawi appeared to take aim at the man he replaced as Chancellor in dramatic circumstances last week by declaring that ‘the burden of tax is too high’.
The comments will be seen as a bid to woo Tory MPs who accuse Mr Sunak of trashing the ‘ low-tax credentials.
But The Mail on Sunday was told that Mr Zahawi began distancing himself from his predecessor within 24 hours of replacing him.
One fellow Minister and Johnson loyalist said last night: Slot gacor ‘Nadhim’s behaviour last week has put a lot of people off him.’
Sources said Mr Zahawi told a Tory fund-raising event on Wednesday that ‘being Conservative Chancellor with Conservative values meant being the party of low tax’.
Coincidentally, the new Chancellor was speaking at the same Carlton Club venue where a week earlier the ex-Tory deputy whip Chris Pincher was accused of groping two men in an incident that ultimately led to Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Guests said Mr Zahawi, who had replaced Mr Sunak as the guest at a fund-raiser for Bolsover Tory MP Mark Fletcher, also aimed a gentle dig at Mr Johnson by saying ‘the party is bigger than one person’.
But former education secretary Mr Zahawi’s leadership launch came amid claims that he did himself ‘immense damage’ last week by accepting promotion from Mr Johnson only to then call on him to step down.
One fellow Minister and Johnson loyalist said last night: ‘Nadhim’s behaviour last week has put a lot of people off him.’
However, sources close to Mr Zahawi told The Mail on Sunday that the Prime Minister ‘holds no grudges’ over his behaviour last week and wants him to deliver ‘a Conservative economic strategy’ as Chancellor.
Mr Zahawi, who also served as the Covid vaccines minister during the pandemic, put reducing taxes at the heart of his pitch to succeed Mr Johnson.
The millionaire ex-businessman, who co-founded the polling company YouGov, said: ‘The burden of tax is simply too high.
‘As an entrepreneur and businessman, I know that lower taxes are how we create a thriving and dynamic economy.’
Insisting that ‘taxes for individuals, families and business’ would be lower ‘on my watch’, Mr # Zahawi added: ‘Overseeing the highest tax burden since 1949 is not the Conservative way.We cannot tax our way into prosperity.’
Sources close to Mr Zahawi told The Mail on Sunday that the Prime Minister ‘holds no grudges’ over his behaviour last week and wants him to deliver ‘a Conservative economic strategy’ as Chancellor
As a Kurd who was born in Iraq and arrived in the UK at age 11 speaking no English, he has previously hailed Britain as the ‘best country in the world’.
But yesterday Mr Zahawi – who also said ‘the Conservative Party has made me who I am today’ – warned that the Britain of ‘boundless optimism and opportunity’ that existed under Margaret Thatcher had been lost.
Reaching out to Conservative Brexiteers, however, he appeared to raise Britain’s departure from the EU as one way to restore those lost opportunities.He said: ‘Thanks to Brexit, we are now a free nation. Let’s not just talk about the opportunities that follow, let’s take them.’
Mr Zahawi also vowed to increase defence spending and continue with his education reforms.